How WordPress Helped Me Climb The Ranks

Posted on August 10, 2014 by in Customer Spotlight | 39 comments

How WordPress Helped Me Climb The Ranks

This post is part of our Customer Spotlight series. If you have an interesting story to tell and would like to share your experience with WordPress and Elegant Themes on our blog, please contact us!

My name is Tom Nguyen, and I’m a web designer in Atlanta, GA. I have consistently used WordPress for web design projects since 2011. Before then, 95% of my websites were static coded in HTML and PHP includes.

My journey into WordPress started when someone who wanted to outsource me for web design told me about ElegantThemes in the summer of 2011. I loved the look of the themes that ElegantThemes offered and immediately purchased a developer’s account. I planned on using these themes for my clients’ websites as well as my own website.

tom

Making Use of My Developer Account

For my own website, the theme that appealed to me the most was the Webly Theme. I loved the color scheme and the home page slider. It just looked like a theme tailor-made for a web design company, so I decided to use it on my website, Mr. Technique. I customized the Webly Theme by creating a child theme, so my changes would not be overwritten when the parent theme was updated.

tom-webly

Having Mr. Technique in WordPress made it much easier to add content which is key to SEO. I began picking up more and more web design clients in the Atlanta area as a result of my growing WordPress and SEO knowledge. For my clients, I’ve used plenty of WordPress themes from ElegantThemes: Modest, DeepFocus, TheProfessional, Nova, and Aggregate just to name a few.

Climbing up the ranks

What I did in the next couple of years was amazing. I went from being an unknown web designer to being an authority in my field. I was on the first page of Google for multiple Atlanta web design related keyphrases, and the public started to take notice.

Other websites started mentioning me. First, I was interviewed by Entrepreneur.com regarding the importance of an About Me page. Next, I was featured on UpCity’s list of top web designers in Atlanta. And finally, I was interviewed by Jenny Munn, an SEO expert in Atlanta, on my SEO success.

Keeping Up With Technology

Although I was getting all of the business that I wanted, I knew that I needed to upgrade my website. I loved the Webly theme, but it wasn’t responsive. If I was going to compete with the big dogs in Atlanta, I needed a responsive WordPress theme. Then I saw Divi.

From the minute I saw Divi, I knew it was going to be my website’s WordPress theme of the future. It was responsive and came packed full of features. Whenever I had free time, I would work on the newest version of Mr. Technique.

Divi allowed me to give Mr. Technique the look and feel that I wanted. I could give each page a different background image by just giving a section a CSS id or class.

I could have complex layouts without having to manually code divs or type in shortcodes. Divi allowed me to add icons without having to construct them using Photoshop or Illustrator.

The Big Release

I released Mr. Technique’s new web design on Memorial Day and mentioned it on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus pages. I’m pretty proud of my work on it.

tom-divi

I added testimonials and a section on the past versions of the Mr. Technique website to show how my skills have improved over the years. I also added a new newsletter sign-up section in the footer widget section.

After the holiday, I received a flood of calls from potential clients who needed a website designed. Changing my theme to Divi hasn’t hurt my Google search engine ranking at all. My visits have remained about the same, but more people are filling out my inquiry form or giving me a call. I’m guessing that’s a result of the new web design.

39 Comments

  1. Great design! I love the color scheme of your website. Thanks for the inspiration Tom!

    • Thanks, Lotazzo! Your web design looks great as well. Algun día, me gustaría desarrollar un sitio web completamente en español. Pero primero, necesito hablar español fluidamente 🙂

      • ¡Gracias Tom! Soy un diseñador gráfico peruano, gracias por contestarme en español, tus diseños son geniales, se que harás sitios geniales en español también, tu experiencia nos inspira a todos los que somos emprendedores llenos de sueños, muchas gracias!

  2. Hi Tom, good post.
    I’m a web designer freelance like you, and I to do the same choise!….
    When i saw Divi i decided to make my personal site right in that way, so i worked and build this
    http://www.marcomotta.it with a good touch of personalization. What do you Think about? How can i climb the ranks like you do on my local business area? (Milan, Italy) thanks and good luck!

  3. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the post. Love the site and the Divi customizations! Hey, by chance, could you share what you use for your client portal?
    Thanks so much,
    Loretta

  4. Great article and inspiration for an amateur website student. Thank you for the
    information Tom and much continued success.

  5. “From the minute I saw Divi, I knew it was going to be my website’s WordPress theme of the future.”

    You and me both Tom… you and me both.
    Good luck with the new Divi site.

  6. Tom,

    I love everything about your site from the color scheme to the transparent overlays. The copy is also very clever, which really adds to the personal feel. Cheers to your Success!

    Adam

    • Thanks, Adam! The copy is a huge selling point of my website. Everybody who inquires always tells me that they love what I have to say on my website.

  7. In the past I have only designed sites for myself, for personal use. However, I’m in the process of starting a new business and as soon as I saw the Divi, I knew that I had to use it for my new business. I have watched some of the training videos and I’m amazed how easy it seems to come up with great layouts and designs.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.
    Thank you, guys, for such great design!

  8. Hi Tom

    Great post. I like Divi too. Great theme with a lot of possibilities. Good luck with your future work.

  9. Your story is simply inspiring and I love the opacity trick you used on your site. In addition, thanks to the tutorial info page you included 🙂

    • Thanks, Eileen! Unfortunately, I’m on a 99 day hiatus from Facebook. Here’s how many days that I have left. If you have a Google Plus group, I’d be happy to join. Here’s how many days that I have left before I use Facebook again:

      http://99daysoffreedom.com/tom-nguyen

  10. Hello Tom,
    I recently decided to turn my site into a web business last September 2013. I have a full time job but I am a web designer and aspiring web developer at heart. How would you recommend improving payment methods for clients on site if you are using a reseller plan to sell hosting and domain services. The technique I use works but it is not as smooth as I would like it to be. Elegantthemes blogs have really helped me out a lot, so i would love it if you could check my site and leave me some feedback : http://www.denverdoran.com

  11. Good stuff! I’ve used elegant themes for a number of client sites including using Divi.

    Interesting to hear from another web professional and the success they are having.

    • Tyson,

      I’d like to see some of your Divi sites. I may post them on my Pinterest board of Divi inspiration.

      • Id love to see the Pinterst board of divi inspiration! and a great story Tom as someone really new to web design I find it really inspiring!

  12. This is a great example of what a rebrand can do. Love it! We are currently working on rebranding our website as well!

  13. Hi Tom
    Thank you for the update. I read your article in the entrepreneur.com. I tried to follow you on your fb page but it shows PAGE NOT FOUND. Please check if you have given correct link.
    Thanks

      • You are welcome. I have now liked your page. 🙂

    • They just fixed the link.

  14. Great article Tom, learned many things from here. I often go through articles on elegantthemes and some of theme are really inspirational, I found your article is one of them. Thanks for sharing.

  15. thanks for sharing your history…

    Do you have any specific advise for changing theme from a SEO perspective?

    Urls do not change so pages should keep their Rank. But, when you changed, I’m sure you had to keep an eye on Tag, rich snippet (example rel=author) and site’s internal hierarchy (category name and structure), because they all can be affected by the change and this can impact on SEO.

    Do you have suggestion or advise to handle this???

    • Memok,

      Actually, I don’t know that much about rich snippets. I did have to redirect my portfolio pages using my .htaccess file though.

      On the Webly theme, my portfolio pages were blog posts. On the Divi theme, I recreated every portfolio page with the theme’s Portfolio post type.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of any more help.

  16. WoW! Tom, you have one of the most detailed portfolio | designer sites I’ve ever seen. This is really easy to collect all the info a potential client would need.

    You did a very nice job…

    Wishing you continued success.

    • Thanks, Voltima! I’m truly flattered by your complements. I had good rankings before, but the redesign has boosted the percentage of inquiries.

  17. Nice article. It’s always interesting to hear how others have leveraged WordPress in their careers.

  18. Hi Tom,

    Love your new website redesign! I notice you have a link to your client portal, was wondering what you use for it?

    Also in Atlanta, ~ Lori Newman

    • Lori,

      I’m actually going to take that down since I don’t use it that much.

      • Tried different solutions myself and haven’t found anything I end up using much myself. Always end back at basecamp 🙂 Thanks for replying.

        • You’re welcome, Lori. I love Basecamp.

  19. Buen dia amigo. Great looking sites. May I ask what you used for the client maps ?

    Gracias Tom,

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